The NYT has learned of hundreds of civilian casualties in US airstrikes in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The USA deliberately underestimated their number.
After investigation The New York Times it turned out that many of the deaths of civilians were not studied or recorded. Its authors analyzed at least 1.3 thousand Pentagon documents on air strikes, visited the places of their application, and interviewed American military personnel and local residents. In response to the results of the investigation, a military spokesman said: “Mistakes cannot be avoided.”
Official Pentagon figures indicate that 1,417 civilians have died in airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. In Afghanistan, 188 civilians have been killed since 2018. However, the investigative journalism conducted revealed a much higher number of civilian deaths, while the authorities simply refused to consider many reports of the incident. In this regard, it is now impossible to establish the exact number of victims. But, in accordance with the data obtained, hundreds of deaths were hidden.
Bill Urban, a spokesman for US Central Command, explains to reporters:
“Even with the best technology in the world, mistakes are unavoidable. They are related to a lack of information or misinterpretation of the information available. We work hard not to cause such damage. We investigate all cases [о которых сообщают] reliable [источники]”.
Among the possible mistakes of the military, the authors of the investigation name:
the inattention of the military, who mistook civilians for militants (4%, according to official Pentagon statistics, and 17%, according to NYT data); inability to see civilians: the military simply did not know that there were people in the strike zone; untrue intelligence and poor quality video recordings, after examining which the military could, for example, mistake a child for a dangerous object.
Sometimes after the main explosion, the following occurred, and civilians who were not even in the strike zone initially became victims. However, in at least 50% of such cases, the military could predict these consequences.